The current interest in ionic liquids (ILs) is motivated by some unique properties, such as negligible vapour pressure, thermal stability and non-flammability, combined with high ionic conductivity and wide electrochemical stability window. However, for material applications, there is a challenging need for immobilizing ILs in solid devices, while keeping their specific properties. In this critical review, ionogels are presented as a new class of hybrid materials, in which the properties of the IL are hybridized with those of another component, which may be organic (low molecular weight gelator, (bio)polymer), inorganic (e.g. carbon nanotubes, silica etc.) or hybrid organic-inorganic (e.g. polymer and inorganic fillers). Actually, ILs act as structuring media during the formation of inorganic ionogels, their intrinsic organization and physicochemical properties influencing the building of the solid host network. Conversely, some effects of confinement can modify some properties of the guest IL, even though liquid-like dynamics and ion mobility are preserved. Ionogels, which keep the main properties of ILs except outflow, while allowing easy shaping, considerably enlarge the array of applications of ILs. Thus, they form a promising family of solid electrolyte membranes, which gives access to all-solid devices, a topical industrial challenge in domains such as lithium batteries, fuel cells and dye-sensitized solar cells. Replacing conventional media, organic solvents in lithium batteries or water in proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), by low-vapour-pressure and non flammable ILs presents major advantages such as improved safety and a higher operating temperature range. Implementation of ILs in separation techniques, where they benefit from huge advantages as well, relies again on the development of supported IL membranes such as ionogels. Moreover, functionalization of ionogels can be achieved both by incorporation of organic functions in the solid matrix, and by encapsulation of molecular species (from metal complexes to enzymes) in the immobilized IL phase, which opens new routes for designing advanced materials, especially (bio)catalytic membranes, sensors and drug release systems (194 references).
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